Just over a month since being handed the keys to the Open 50 Sparrow in Maine, this grassroots campaign to race solo around the world is beginning to create some real energy and momentum as we slowly work our way to the starting line. There’s still a long way to go, and this still feels like a big gamble at times, but I remain fully convinced that I’ll manage to get this boat to both the starting line and the finish line of the inaugural Global Solo Challenge race next year out of Spain.
With two delivery legs and just a number of day sails under my belt and another delivery coming up in a few days, my journey with Sparrow is still in its first chapters. Day by day, mile by mile and small repair by small repair, I am becoming one with the boat. I am learning how to sail Sparrow in a variety of conditions and beginning to anticipate when small problems may arise.
With more than 500 miles under our keel together, we’ve now welcomed onboard a number of guests, sailing journalists, military veterans, sponsors, and delivery crew and are now looking forward to this next leg from New York City to Annapolis for the boat show. Nearly three hundred miles down the coast and more than a hundred more up the Chesapeake Bay, this 400+ nautical mile leg will be our longest thus far.
On the first leg from Portland, Maine to Newport, Rhode Island I had occasional SA contributor Keith Magnussen and one of my best sailing and cruising friends Jose Castello onboard. We had an awesome 300-mile run of upwind, light reaching, and then moderate downwind sailing into Newport. While in Newport, I attended the boat show and managed to sign up several key equipment sponsors for the campaign. The second leg saw a couple of the boys from Maine Yacht Center – the yard that did Sparrow’s refit and where my journey with Sparrow began – drive down to Rhode Island and then hop on for the mostly upwind delivery to New York. For the next leg to Annapolis, I’ve got a super talented 16 year old foiling sailor from Kaneohe Yacht Club’s junior program coming to join me as well as an old buddy and delivery crew from Hawaii and the west coast. We may see our first heavy air downwind sailing in the ocean with Sparrow, as well as some moderate upwind and reaching conditions. Three-up seems to be a good number of people to deliver the boat around efficiently while also maintaining a close watch in these busy east coast shipping lanes and harbor approaches.
Once in Annapolis, we’ll be on the docks at the Annapolis Boat Show next to sailing YouTube celebrities La Vagabonde’. While at the boat show, we’ll be giving boat tours and installing new gear from several new sponsors; line from New England Ropes, sheet bags from Ronstan, shackles and accessories from Wichard and a new stack pack and sail cover from Chesapeake Sailmakers. In the afternoons during the show, we plan to take the boat out sailing with guests onboard and hope to sign on a couple of more big industry names to help us in getting the boat ready for next year’s big race. It’s definitely been an uphill battle to take an old Open 50 with no money and then turn that into a viable campaign with sponsorship and a budget, but the progress that has already been made is inspiring.
After Annapolis, current plans include basing the boat in Charleston and Florida for some winter sailing before taking on the Pineapple Cup and Caribbean 600. Then it’s a solo trip across the pond to a re-fit in France and then the race in Spain. Through this delivery and racing process, we are continuing to engage the veteran community while also looking to bring on junior sailors, female sailors and more to gain experience and opportunities on a cool boat and a neat campaign.
If you haven’t already, make sure to check out www.ronniesimpsonracing.com, where you can check out the campaign, donate, connect with our social feeds and more. If you’d like to arrange a tour or sail on the boat or come onboard as a donor or sponsor, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]. I plan to conduct yacht club speaking presentations this winter at yacht clubs on both coasts as I continue to engage donors and sponsors for this campaign.
If you or your yacht club or group would like to hear my story of how sailing and ocean racing changed my life after being severely wounded in Iraq, and how we will use the Global Solo Challenge and the Vendée Globe to inspire and benefit others, then please reach out.
E-mail: [email protected]
Instagram: @captainron_official and @open50sparrow
YouTube: Ronnie Simpson Racing
GoFund Me link: https://gofund.me/56679028
US Patriot Sailing 501c3 charitable donation link: https://www.uspatriotsailing.org/Donation-Form/